Lawyer Suspended for False Advertising, ‘Gross Incompetence’

A lawyer who put the logo of a law school more prestigious than the one he actually attended on his website was indefinitely suspended July 11.

Daren Allen Webber’s incompetent representation of bankruptcy clients and violations of the rules on attorney advertising merit indefinite suspension, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department found. The suspension was based on an identical sanction by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Though the rules on attorney advertising get a lot of attention in bar association ethics opinions, it’s fairly uncommon for attorneys to get disciplined for violating them—even as an add-on to more serious infractions.

‘Gross Incompetence’

The federal district court’s sanction was based on what amounted to “gross incompetence and negligence” in handling debtors’ bankruptcy matters before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Those acts spanned conduct in numerous bankruptcy cases and included filing incorrect or incomplete documents, missing or being late to meetings with creditors, failing to communicate with his clients, and missing deadlines.

Webber’s website was also problematic. He attended New York Law School, but displayed the seal of the more prestigious New York University. He also failed to include a disclaimer that his statement about his hundreds of successes on behalf of bankruptcy debtors didn’t guarantee similar outcomes for future clients.

Webber failed to respond to the federal court’s order directing him to explain why he shouldn’t be disciplined. So all charges were deemed established. And he filed a late response to the state supreme court’s similar directive by making “conclusory assertions of bias.”

Based on the federal district court’s suspension for Webber’s misconduct, the supreme court suspended him indefinitely.

The case is Matter of Webber, 2018 BL 246098, N.Y. App. Div., No. 2017-13064, 7/11/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mindy Rattan in Washington at mrattan@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: S. Ethan Bowers at sbowers@bloomberglaw.com